After we were through customs and immigration using our newly acquired Global Entry access, we put our bags onto the connecting flight conveyor belt and headed up to security. It turned out that there is no TSA PreCheck access when you try to re-clear security post customs at IAH Airport. So we did the familiar but highly annoying dance of taking off our shoes and and removing my computer from my backpack and even having my left thigh patted down before obtaining access to the post security part of the terminal. Had I known that there would be no TSA PreCheck at the international to domestic connection area, I would have gone outside and reentered and passed through security at the main departure level, which does have TSA PreCheck.
Some might ask, what is the big deal? The big deal is that we paid $100.00 dollars per person plus the three of us drove down to Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego for the interview with a CBP officer one week before we were to leave for Peru. Top that all off with a 5+ hour drive stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the 5 freeway down to San Diego, and another 4+ hour stuck in traffic coming back up home. Going through TSA PreCheck also gives one the peace of mind of not having to frantically make sure that one remembered to retrieve everything that one had scattered around into multiple bins.
Once through security and we were sure that nothing of ours was left behind in the bins, we head for the United Club located in Terminal E. Since we were through this same United Club two weeks earlier, we were already familiar with the layout and where everything was located. After having our boarding passes scanned, we went up directly to the third floor of the club. Since, I already wrote about this club in a earlier post, I will not go into details in this post, but you can read about it in my previous post here: United Airlines IAH-LIM
My mom and I had originally planned to use the showers available here at terminal E United Club before our connecting flight to Los Angeles, but both of us passed on the idea. I did not eat anything from the breakfast buffet setup but my parents did have some food to eat. While I was not jet lagged from the flight up from Peru due to the comfortable sleep I had onboard, I still did feel the “bleah” that one feels after flying long hours trapped inside of an airplane.
As soon as it got close to boarding time and the United App showed that there were no delays for our flight, we left the lounge and walked to Terminal C, where our flight to Los Angeles would be boarding. Since we were through Terminal C in May and two weeks earlier, we had no trouble finding our way to gate C31. When we arrived at the gate, I tried to find a free seat along the window to try and snap some pictures of the United Airlines aircrafts including the ones that we would be flying on. I tried my best to take the pictures without being a nuisance to the passengers seated and waiting to board.
Shortly after, we arrived at the gate, people were starting to line up in their boarding groups. We did the same in Group 1 boarding line behind a gentlemen who beat us to the first position. At this point, after all the sitting we had done over the last 24 hours, just standing in line felt really good on the lower back and legs. The gate agent made the usual pre-boarding announcements followed shortly later by calling for Global Services passengers to board. Once pre-boarding and Global Services boarding was completed, Group 1 boarding was called, and after having our boarding passes scanned, down the jet bridge we went.
Our seats assignment for this flight is 1A,B,E. My mom and I were assigned to 1A and B while and my dad in 1E. United does not give out slippers in their international Business First Cabin, so I brought with me a pair of slippers from Tambo Del Inca Hotel that we stayed at in Peru. I took them out, placed them on my seat to wear them when I got back from the bathroom, but my mom snagged them. I thought she left them on the Lima flight but she put them back in the plastic packaging and brought the pair with her for this flight to Los Angeles. She originally told me NOT to bring the slippers because we had too much stuff already, but in the end she was the beneficiary of me not listening to her.
Once we boarded, Freddie, the male flight attendant working in the first class cabin stowed my mom’s new coat from Lima Airport in the closet for her. Freddie’s coworker who was working with him in first class, came by to take pre-departure beverage orders. Gin and tonic for me and water for my mom. It drives me nuts that my mom orders water when we are flying in the premium cabin. I tell my mom that as the person paying for her first or business class seat, I feel like I am not getting my moneys worth when she orders water, but year after year, she orders water for beverage when flying. My dad on the other hand will order beer, wine or when he can not decide, will order the same thing I am having.
After everyone was boarded, counted and the cargo hold loaded, the doors of our Boeing 737 900 was closed, and a manual safety demonstration performed by the flight attendants. We pushed back from the gate on time and taxied to the runway. Once we got to the runway, the engines roared to life and after the typical long run down the runway for the Boeing 737 900, we were wheels up and heading to Los Angeles. When we reached 10,000 feet, the chime went off releasing the flight attendants from the jump seat. Both Freddie and the other flight attendant working in the first class cabin began preparation for breakfast service. Freddie came through to take the meal and drink order followed by the other flight attendant who came through with the hot towels. I ordered a vodka and cranberry to drink and the cheese and herb omelette for breakfast. All three of us got our first choice on this flight. My mom ordered the omelette as well and my dad chose to go with the oatmeal. I overheard Freddie saying that only one passenger did not get what they wanted for breakfast.
The drinks arrived first, followed closely behind by the meal trays. The choices for breakfast were exactly the same as on our flight two weeks earlier to Houston. The bread basket followed the meal trays. I pointed to the warmed cinnamon roll and it was placed on my bread plate. Just as two weeks before, the cheese and herb omelette was very good. I am not sure about the nutritional content of the meal, but I like to follow one simple rule: Taste Good = Not Good For You. The bowl of fruit was chilled and the fruits perfectly ripe. It is not easy getting a bowl or a cup of cut fruit that is perfectly ripe at a restaurant or the supermarket, but United Airlines seems to have found a secret to procuring the fruit at the the peak of ripeness.
Once passengers were finished, the trays were promptly removed and more drinks were offered. I passed on further drinks and just played with the BYOD content, including the air map. The first class cabin on our flight today had four frat boys who were kind of loud and boasting about their former relationships when they boarded, but behaved themselves once we departed the gate. I was a little worried that the four would never find their “inside voices” but they turned out to be well behaved gentlemen. We landed early and taxied into gate 71A in Terminal 7. We arrived at total of 19 minutes early into LAX. Freddie returned the bag containing my mom’s new coat from the closet and once the aircraft doors were opened, we were the first to disembark from the aircraft.
We went to the main LAX United Club which is located across from gate 71A, to use the facilities before collecting our luggage and catching the Van Nuys FlyAway Bus home. This flight maybe the last flight we fly on United Airlines in 2016. As of now, I have nothing else planned for the rest of the year which would require flying. We have flown eight segments with United so far this year, including this one and out of those eight flights, I have had ZERO complaints. United Airlines has exceeded and disproved many reservations that I have had regarding their domestic and international service. My reservations were a product of reading reviews online written by frequent flyers on popular travel forums, but after personally experiencing United Airlines and their service for myself, I believe many of those negative reviews are from the DYKWIA flyers and must be taken with a grain of salt.